More ‘Reader Rants’ on Sports Arena, CirculateSD, Campbell and Mayor’s Race

by on July 31, 2020 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

Editordude: We couldn’t help but elevate the following comments by Paul Webb and Roy McMakin into full-blown “reader rants”. Their writings are worthy of more attention and touch on the Sports Arena redevelopment, the 30 foot height limit, CirculateSD, Jen Campbell and the mayor’s race.

Regarding the Sports Arena Redevelopment ….

By Paul Webb

This is not a case of a developer buying a piece of land, formulating a plan and then going through the entitlements process. This is publicly owned land, and has been for a very long time.

There is absolutely no fundamental necessity for any uses other than public uses on this property. We live in a city, and, in the case of those of us in the Point Loma/OB area, a neighborhood that fails to meet any standards for parkland per 100,000 population put forth by any rating organization. If there is a need for housing, there is also a great need for increasing park land available to the public.

There is also a great need to improve the traffic circulation of the the Midway area and surrounding communities. Any development of this, I repeat, PUBLICLY OWNED PROPERTY should address park deficiencies and circulation/transportation issues first, before we even consider what other uses can or should be made of the land.

I would also take issues that “everything is within a quick walk.” We don’t actually know what types of uses would go in all those buildings. What we have in front of us are two extremely vague conceptual development plans, which do not commit to providing public amenities, do not commit to a firm number of parking spaces, and do not specify or commit to any specific uses or development types other than the sports arena.

We don’t actually know if this will in fact be a walkable community where people both live and work. I’ve been hearing about these magical communities for my entire career as an urban planner and, with the possible exception of downtown, I have yet to see one.

I would also point out that the process put forth by the city was nothing less than insulting. There was no opportunity to criticize either proposal or question the overall process. All you could do was tell what things about each concept you liked. This is not public outreach, it is a charade. At a minimum, there should have been a charette process to develop ideas for what good development of the property should be. If a public process was not possible due to the pandemic, at least a charette involving major stakeholders should have been conducted.

Finally, there’s Dr. Jen Campbell. She undoubtedly knows about health and healthy living, but my experience has been that she does not know a lot about urban planning, transportation, parks or many of the other issues over which she now has influence. I have not observed her listening to informed people and gaining insight from what she has heard. I have heard her stubbornly clinging to notions that are wrong-headed and in some cases actually factually wrong.

Thoughts on Circulate SD and 30 Foot Height Limit

Roy McMakin

I’ve thought for a while that Circulate SD deserves a deep investigative journalist look. And I know I’m not alone in that feeling. Colin Parent and team seem to almost be begging for some serious scrutiny, or feel they are immune from it. I think in many ways different generations see their tactics and agenda very differently. Their supporters see them as having found a way to get important stuff done, making alliances with Big Money. But their critics see them corporate shills, who traffic in green/housing washing.

Circulate SD seems to exemplify the late stage capitalist marriage of progressive social beliefs and an almost libertarian belief in big corporate money’s power for transformation of cities. I have no idea if Circulate vets their many corporate donors. My take is they feel the end justifies the means. But their top donor is Deloitte, and I assume they want something for the money they give them.

I think its also interesting that the above description applies to their preferred mayoral candidate, Todd Gloria. I think this is because there is a symbiotic relationship between some elected officials and Circulate SD. I believe Circulate does consulting work for the City of SD. Many people are generally aware Mr Gloria’s decisions are lobbyist / big money controlled, as are Circulate’s I assume. To many of us this seems counter what we want to see in our elected officials. But it seems that to his supporters if he can add housing and bike lanes they don’t care what goes on behind the curtain.

As Dems take power in San Diego (and the country hopefully) I think we are going to continue to see the tensions between the corporate arm and the anti-corporate arm of the party. Given’s SD’s legacy of conservative politics I think Circulate and Gloria are essentially taking the place of the Republicans, as I mentioned above, with progressive social policies. They are pro big business, anti-regulation etc. To me they seem to be against some democratic concepts if they are in the way of achieving their goals. Colin himself has written about this, he suggests taking power from communities as they stand in the way of what he feel is right. I assume he feels the urgency of our times justify getting rid of the messiness of democracy.

So I think the support Circulate SD has for removing the 30? height limit has to be seen in this light. They not only see nothing wrong with handing development and more over to corporate control, essentially letting big developers be our City planning department. I suppose Colin also enjoys having a large and powerful lobbying not-for-profit, even if its really just a lobbying business.

I think hippies, like me, prefer not only the messiness of decisions being made in open and transparently democratic way, but the quality of a city that evolves in a more accretive way from that process. Maybe the hippies are still holding on to an illusion of some shred of an utopia, and maybe the YIMBYs are trying to make the best of a dystopic future. But I do know folks like me also have a deep set skepticism of big corporate control of our lives. But Colin and his followers don’t see that as a concern……

I suppose we will see how this plays out in November, I assume we will be greatly outspent.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Micporte August 1, 2020 at 6:16 am

Hey, PUBLIC, that means you, the taxpayer, voter, person who lives here, or even just owns rental properties here, GET UP, STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS! Don’t let the idiots in city hall, most of whom have no experience in politics, but big egos, and weak morals, sell public land because they are sweetly lobbied by the mafia developers….the sports arena zone is a serious flood zone, the sports arena floods at every high tide ( did you miss those articles?) We are in a crucial time, don’t sell the family cow, not now….. if nothing else, WAIT, patience is a virtue they say…. and smart advice too…. San Diego is my hometown, born and raised, but sometimes, I think we suck so bad, and will pay the price in desperate dumb destruction of our heritage….the coolest environmental landscape in California


micporte August 1, 2020 at 8:04 am

bring back the grey whales to breed in our unique SD bay, not a bunch of world millionaires gobers/users, nor the military-industrial complex, getting more complex with each day, let us just say NO, THANK YOU…with a global sigh of relief… speaking for the whales…


micporte August 1, 2020 at 8:47 am

take off your clothes, and your shoes, dig in the sand, make deep holes, connect your hands under a deep sand tunnel, drip sand towers to your inner enchantment, sculpt the sand to your hearts content, all day long, , getting your back burned by the sun, and tired, and then, let it all fall away to the tide, a whole day’s labor, with your family and friends, with the sunset and the tide…
that’s life…enjoy, and don’t shake your sandy towel in the face of others…


Walter August 1, 2020 at 1:27 pm

I respectfully disagree with this premise. We have a shortage of housing, and the Sports Arena area is an industrial area that seems like a logical place to build housing. I would rather build there than sprawl out the suburbs.


Paul Webb August 2, 2020 at 10:38 am

I generally agree with what you are saying. What I object to is not building housing at this location, but rather I question: 1) the process the city is going through, particularly at a time when meaningful public participation is impossible; 2) the absence of any discussion regarding what is the highest and best use of a large swath of public property; 3) the failure to address existing circulation/transportation problems and the lack parks and open space in this community; 4) emphasis on commercial development. I would also point out that Toll Brothers, the proponent of arguably the better of the two proposals, is known as a luxury home builder. Not a great company to address affordable housing crisis.


Chris August 4, 2020 at 8:07 am

I live in Hillcrest. The interesting thing here and also downtown is there are several units that have gone up in the past three years are so and are sitting about three quarters empty. Same thing in Little Italy. Some of these buildings are almost 5 years old and are simply not attracting new residents and are at the very lest just over half empty. And no plans what ever to bring the prices down to attract new buyers or renters. I guess for some investors, default is a ok. In fact one investor that my wife knows said exactly that. I guess I need to re-think normal.


Paul Webb August 4, 2020 at 9:56 am

Spot on! Just look at the Upper Voltaire project. Most condos remain unsold and the street level retail is vacant. The last time I checked, only the cheapest of the condos had been sold.


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